SCENE 1. INT. CANTINA. SRAN--NIGHT. A cantina on a blasted rock of a planet in the area of galaxy known as the Ash Worlds. The place is empty, save for the serving droid and a hulking figure, who is sitting at the bar. We can hear the hiss and wheeze of the ventilator strapped to his massive body, and when he speaks, his voice has a slight electronic distortion from the mask he wears. Some kind of cantina-type music plays in the background, tinny as if through slightly broken speakers. Cutting back to this will be a good indicator that we've switched scenes or times. FX: Doors slide open. Wind rushes in from outside, bringing dirt and grit with it. There's a storm outside. Footsteps as an Er'Kit stumbles in--Andrik. The door shuts with a hiss. ANDRIK: Woo-ee! That's quite a storm you have blowing up out there. Dust gets everywhere, eh? SERVING DROID: Welcome to Sran, buddy. They don't call them the Ash Worlds for nothing. What can I get you? ANDRIK: Got any Tovash? SERVING DROID: No. ANDRIK: Juma juice? SERVING DROID: No. ANDRIK: What have you got? HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Nothing good. ANDRIK: I hear you, pal. SERVING DROID: Enough of that talk, or I'll cut you off. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Promises. Promises. SERVING DROID: How about a glass of utoz or vematoid. ANDRIK: Which is better? HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Neither. ANDRIK: I'll go for the vematoid. Neat. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) You'll regret it. ANDRIK: I'll take my chances. FX: A drink is poured and placed in front of Andrik, clunking on the bar. SERVING DROID: Enjoy. ANDRIK: Thanks. FX: Scrape as Andrik picks up the glass and takes a drink. ANDRIK: (CONT) (RECOILS) Ugh! What in void's name? HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Told ya. ANDRIK: (COUGHING) It's disgusting. Pure gutrot. SERVING DROID: Another? ANDRIK: You bet. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) (LAUGHS) I like you. ANDRIK: Good to know. And a . . . a welcome change. The name's Andrik. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) You're an Er'Kit. ANDRIK: Yeah. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Don't see many of you around here. ANDRIK: I can believe it. SERVING DROID: Here you go. FX: Another glass is slammed down in front of Andrik. ANDRIK: Thanks. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) You running from trouble? ANDRIK: No. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Then you must be looking to cause it. Those are the only reasons anyone comes to Sran. ANDRIK: What about you? HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) I'm still working that out. FX: Andrik's stool scrapes as he looks around at the empty bar. ANDRIK: Pretty dead in here. Pity. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) If you're looking to party, you've come to the wrong place, friend. ANDRIK: I'm not looking for a party, but you might be able to help me. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) How so? ANDRIK: (LEANS IN, CONSPIRATORIALLY) I'm looking for . . . muscle. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) (LAUGHS) Are you now? ANDRIK: Mercs. Bounty hunters, even. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Must be desperate. You got credits? ANDRIK: Sure. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Don't look like you got credits. ANDRIK: Appearances can be deceptive. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) You're telling me. ANDRIK: Okay, okay. I admit it. I'm not exactly . . . flush right now. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) (NOT SURPRISED) Is that right? ANDRIK: But there's this job . . . a good job . . . HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) With riches beyond my wildest dreams, I'll be bound. ANDRIK: Not just riches. Power. Real power. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) You don't say. ANDRIK: So what d'ya think? HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) I'm not interested. ANDRIK: Oh. I didn't mean you. I mean . . . you're a big guy, but no offense or anything, you . . . you don't sound like you're in the best shape. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) There's a reason for that. ANDRIK: I bet. All I need is pointing in the right direction. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) To the muscle. ANDRIK: It'll be worth their while. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) What've you got in mind? A hit job? Protection? ANDRIK: A rescue. Well, more of a breakout, I guess. It's not gonna be easy. HULKING FIGURE: (MASKED) Things never are. And who exactly are you breaking out? ANDRIK: (BEAT, AND THEN LOWERS VOICE AS IF THERE WERE SOMEONE ELSE IN THE BAR WHO COULD HEAR) Have you ever heard of a woman called Lourna Dee? Excerpted from Star Wars: Tempest Runner (the High Republic) by Cavan Scott All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.